- Edward Brady
The League of Legends World finals conclude: An incredible final to wrap up an incredible tournament
The World Championship (also known as Worlds) is the second of two yearly international tournaments in the League of Legends Esports scene, where players compete on franchised teams for fame, pride, a considerable salary, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash prizes.
22 teams from 12 regions (The Vietnam Championship Series couldn’t send their 2 teams due to covid travel restrictions) competed for the ultimate prize in LoL esports, the 70-pound Summoner’s Cup. The tournament started with the play-in stage on October 5th, before advancing to the main stage groups which began on October 11th before eventually ending with the finals on November 6th.
The finals have wrapped up, and oh my, what a series. I thought this was going to be a one-sided stomp and instead we got one of the best finals in history. This was yet another all-time classic and one that will go down in the history books. Let’s break it down.
Match 1: (LPL)
TLDR: Both teams match each other blow-for-blow, but EDward Gaming just had more in the tank.
Summary: I didn’t think it could get any better than T1/DK. I was wrong.
Game 1 started slow, both teams picked fairly standard champions in most positions (J4, Ryze, Leblanc, etc.) but had one unique pick to spice things up. EDG saw the power of Ziliean in the T1 series and decided to try it out themselves, giving it to Meiko. Khan decided to go Yasuo top, his first professional game of it in the World finals. The game started slow with trades of CS, poke, and the occasional kill. A dragon and first blood for EDG here, a rift herald and a kill for DK there.
The game wouldn’t see significant action until the 2nd rift herald, where the game was blown wide open at 15 minutes. Jiejie flashed forward on J4 to cataclysm onto Ghost and BeryL while Scout and Viper free fired into all of Damwon. Meiko would pop ultimate onto Jiejie and EDG would clean up the rest of the fight. From there, EDG would hold a consistent 2k gold lead. They weren’t advancing it, but DK also couldn’t close the gap. Meiko’s Ziliean acted as the kryptonite for Damwon’s entire comp. They had a ton of single target burst with Leblanc, Xin Zhao, and Yasuo, single target burst that would be negated by the ultimate while EDG could clean up the rest of the fight. They would seal the deal with a fight around a Baron Damwon tried to force as EDG was already at soul point. Jiejie would step up to the plate once again as he kicked off the fight and ended it before it even began. EDG would run over the rest of the game and draw first blood in fairly dominant fashion.
EDward Gaming proved they were here to play and made it a series while Damwon KIA was forced to go back to the drawing board. That Yasuo did not work out, and most of their team comp was counterpicked by 1 champion. They would ban the Jarvan on B3 and first pick the Jhin away from Viper. Both teams would pick engage supports while EDG would take DK’s mid/jungle duo. Multiple ADC bans from DK would force Viper onto the Kai’Sa, Canyon would get his Qiyana, and Showmaker took Malzahar to shut down the high mobility champions of EDG. And Flandre would pick another carry in Irelia to round it out.
The adjustments worked wonders for Damwon KIA. Showmaker and Canyon had incredible gank set up with a point and click ultimate into Qiyana burst for first blood. The early rift herald might’ve gone to EDG, but the kills went Damwon’s way, snowballing them even further ahead. Khan on Graves and Khan on Yasuo was night and day. He was far more comfortable, stopped Flandre’s Irelia from taking over, and got a triple kill at the 2nd dragon fight to blow open the game. Even with Viper and Meiko being as good as ever, DK’s crowd control meant any Rakan engage from Meiko was a one-way trip. And Viper couldn’t truly pop off as he had little range as the Kai’Sa and whenever he got too close, BeryL would just stun him and the rest of DK would blow him up. The game was 7-2 in Damwon’s favor by 20 minutes and the entire top side was up over 1k gold each. Fortunately for the LPL, Jiejie did what he does best. Steal baron to keep EDG in the game. And Damwon KIA had 2 smites!
Unfortunately for the LPL champions, all that did was delay the inevitable. Viper may have had a massive lead in the bot lane, but the rest of Damwon KIA was simply too strong for the fights to go any other way. Khan, Canyon, and Showmaker were absolute monsters while BeryL was great engage and Ghost stayed safe and sniped from afar. He was the unsung hero of that game. The final kill score was 22-3. It was almost all Damwon, all the time.
Game 3 would see the teams trade power picks back and forth with EDG taking blue side. Twisted Fate for Scout. Aphelios for Ghost, Lee Sin for Canyon. Jayce for Flandre and Xin for Jiejie while Showmaker took the Sylas to steal the TF ultimate. Viper would get the Jhin that was so good in the previous 2 games while Meiko got an engage support, Leona. DK would pick Gragas for disruption and flex it top lane while BeryL got Braum for counter-engage and protection.
The early game would see action. Canyon and Showmaker would both invest flash before 3 minutes, but Canyon canceled an auto-attack and Scout survived with a sliver of health. EDG would find an early game lead thanks to good use of the Destiny from Scout. DK would fire back, but Khan had a miserable time on the weakside. EDG never gave him a moment to breathe. EDG once again had a 2k gold lead, but that was mostly in the top and mid lane. The game could still go either way. EDG would be a nuisance as Scout would land a gold card then Flandre would follow it up with a shock blast, and Viper would root them with a deadly flourish. DK could stop the engage but had few answers to the poke. Damwon KIA did have a win condition. Dragon soul, Damwon took the first two with little contest and narrowly won the fight thanks to an engage from Showmaker and disruption by Khan. They played to that win condition well as Showmaker and Khan found an engage onto the backline that completely swung a fight that was going in EDG’s favor into an almost complete wipe for DK.
With Infernal Soul secured and the gold evened up, Damwon KIA would take it to match point. Ghost was untouchable with BeryL protecting him as he could shred through EDG, Canyon found the key kick onto Flandre at the Baron fight, and Showmaker was unstoppable on Sylas. EDG found a small early game lead, but Damwon’s teamfight composition was just too strong in the fights that truly mattered.
The draft in game 4 was an incredibly volatile one. Flandre’s Graves was probably the most durable frontline of anyone in the game, everyone else was incredibly squishy but had high damage. Khan’s Gwen walked on top of a ward and Jiejie’s Viego and Scout’s Zoe caught him out for first blood. Jiejie also had a massive early farm and experience lead. On the bot side of the map, Ghost’s Jhin and Meiko’s Nami had pushed in the Lucian/Lulu and brought down Canyon’s Talon, but beautiful defensive play from Viper and Meiko stopped the dive cold. Just before the 13-minute mark, Canyon would make a return to the bot lane, and this time, it worked far better as DK killed two while losing none. EDG once again held around a 2k gold lead early as Flandre and Jiejie were pulling away while Ghost wasn’t quite as far ahead. EDG also got every neutral objective by 15 minutes. While EDG would continue to hold the lead and take the third dragon, Showmaker would land a critical 3-man shockwave to keep Damwon KIA in striking distance.
But the youngest player on the finals stage Jiejie would hit the pivotal smite to secure EDG the mountain soul and a big permanent advantage. EDG would burst down the Baron before DK could even get in position and win every single fight to take game 4.
Against all odds and predictions, this series went 5 games. EDG looked incredibly vulnerable against Gen. G while the DK/T1 series was being described as peak League of Legends. Analysts around the world were calling this match heavily Damwon KIA favored, a good chunk of them even saying it would be a sweep. 79% of people in the fan vote in the pregame predicted DK, 84% of people on the official R/LoL prediction tournament picked DK.
86% of players who filled out pick ‘ems, 86% of the approximately 7,898,201 pickems had Damwon KIA pulling off the repeat.
And yet EDward Gaming took Damwon KIA the distance anyway. This finals either way would result in absolute elation for one side, and unimaginable heartbreak for the other. Both teams had veterans who had been searching for so long but could never quite get there. Both had young guns eager to cement themselves in the history books. But only one could walk away with the Summoner’s Cup. In front of 4,018,728 viewers, history would be made.
The second ever 5 game finals would rest on a knife’s edge in the early game. The Rift Herald fight would be the first major fight of the game, Jiejie’s Xin Zhao knocked BeryL’s Leona into the EDG backline for an easy kill, but Canyon’s Trundle found the smite on the Herald itself. Flandre and Jiejie found a pick onto Khan thanks to some good play in the top bush. Showmaker’s Predator Syndra had a small lead over Scout’s Zoe, but Viper’s Aphelios had a lead over Ghost’s Ziggs. Flandre was also able to bait Khan into diving him and he called Jiejie up for the 3rd kill of the game. Both teams traded dragons and towers early and EDG only had a minimal 500 gold lead at 15 minutes. A great stun onto Jiejie would kick off a fight and EDG would try to kill BeryL and Showmaker on the counter attack, but Canyon and BeryL delayed long enough for Showmaker to put DK on the board. At the 23 minute mark, it all finally came together for EDward Gaming.
Flandre was now massive on Kennen with 4 kills, 3 assists, 2 ½ items and boots. EDG were at soul point. Jiejie was a tanky frontliner on Xin Zhao who could be counted on to engage and survive it. But Damwon KIA would not go down easy.
In the World Finals, Damwon KIA snuck a 2-man baron. But EDG threw another counterpunch. In the crucial ocean soul fight, Jiejie made the critical smite, Meiko sacrificed himself to set up Flandre for a huge Kennen ultimate, Viper went hyper aggressive on the Aphelios, and Scout played cleanup on the Zoe. After a beautiful baron dance, EDG ran down to Elder and won the fight by narrow margins. Scout’s Zoe found the bubble onto Canyon before the fight, yet Damwon almost stole it without him. Showmaker held off Flandre in the 1v1, but Jiejie, Viper, and Scout would handle the Elder. With that, EDG took the Baron without contestant as DK tried to find answers in the sidelane but EDG would force them to base. On the Baron powerplay, EDG took top inhibiter and the first nexus tower. EDG held a 7k gold lead with almost all of it coming from Jiejie and Viper. With one final fight, EDward Gaming pulled off the upset of the year.
On one hand, this was quite possibly the most painful year for all of Damwon KIA that was physically possible. Damwon KIA were two games away this year from completing the golden road. Instead? They have nothing. They played some of the best League of Legends the World had ever seen for 99% of 2021. They even played it in the other 1%! It just wasn’t enough. This was far from a choke and was quite possibly the most entertaining final in the game’s 11-year history. It just wasn’t enough. Khan will not go out as a champion. The new dynasty was killed in it’s infancy. The LCK once more takes a backseat to the LPL.
Despite all of this, Damwon KIA should be remembered as one of the best teams to play the game this year. Everyone showed up at all stages of the tournament, there was just one team even better and more tenacious than they were. My heart goes out to every one of the Damwon KIA players and I can only hope they comeback hungry next year. And for Khan, despite the heartbreak, he had an incredible career, and I can only hope he finds happiness in the next stage of his life. The LoL community will remember you for a long time Khan, thanks for all the good memories.
But for EDG?
All the heartbreak over the years was finally worth it.
EDward Gaming breaks the quarterfinals curse and wins a championship, the LPL gets to fire back after getting so much flak for the group stage. Flandre gets a title after so many years of struggling on Snake Esports. Jiejie came up from the EDG youth team only a year ago and was a pivotal reason why EDG walked away with the title today. Viper is the first of the Griffin members to finally win the big one after traveling to a new league. Meiko and Scout gave almost their entire 6–7-year careers to EDG and they are finally champions.
Scout even won finals MVP despite only getting coverage as just another bump in the road for Showmaker! The EDward Gaming faithful after getting nothing but heartbreak at Worlds since their existence can finally celebrate without the other shoe dropping. Just look at how big some of the watch parties were over in China!
This World Championship might have just been the best in the game’s history and the finals lived up to it. I am glad to have shared it with you and I can only look forward to what is next in store for the future of League of Legends esports.
This has been Edward Brady, for NTTV.